It was supposed to be “Red October-vs-Dodger Blue” in the World Series at the end of this month.
Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you plan. Sometimes players get hurt. Sometimes you invest in the wrong talent. Sometimes the manager screws it up. . Sometimes the player choke up.
They are like you and me, watching it on TV. They being the 98-win Angels and the 94-win Dodgers, both knocked out in the first round divisional series, despite having home field advantage and being rested.
A huge disappointment, and now the blame game is about to begin.
In Anaheim, Arte Moreno’s Halos had failed to get to the postseason four years in a row, despite a really high payroll. Mike Scoscia was indeed on the hot seat as manager. Moreno, despite his spending sprees, had nothing but aggravation to show for the massive investments he made in the likes of Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton.
But it was pitching, both starting, and relieving, that helped do the Angels in. The devastating end of season losses of strong armed right-hander Garrett Richards, to a knee, and sensational rookie Matt Shoemaker, to an oblique, buried the staff. The two hardest throwers, between them, had combined for 30-wins and were really becoming the aces of the staff. Lots of miles, and lots of erratic performances, left Jared Weaver and CJ Wilson, the remaining starters, non-trustworthy.
Of course, the Halos stopped hitting too, odd for a team that was so deep in talent with big averages during the back end of the schedule. The Angels hit an anemic (.170) in getting swept by the Royals in the ALDS. Pujols and Hamilton went a combined (3-37), Howie Kendrick hit (.154) and superstar Mike Trout (.083) in a crash and burn conclusion to the season.
Up the freeway, the Dodgers spent 246M this year to win the division, but you never got the sense, it was a team, but rather a clubhouse of individual contractors.
The ace, Clayton Kershaw ran out of gas, from too many innings, losing twice to the Cardinals, and is now a stunning (1-5) in postseason play in his career. Beyond that, the rotation was thin and injured, and the 35M-in relievers, led by Kenley Jansen was highly erratic.
Manager Don Mattingly continued to have his hands full with Yasiel Puig, eventually sitting him, in what was the must-win game of the season, a loss, to St. Louis. Puig struck out 8X in his 12-at bats in the series. Dynamic infielder Dee Gordon looked gassed, hitting just (.176) in the leadoff spot. Slugger Adrian Gonzalez was pitched around (.188) and did virtually nothing. Aging Juan Uribe hit (.118).
The blame game finger is being pointed more at GM-Ned Coletti than anyone else, and indications are the payroll will likely come down, and there may be some changes in the exec suite as well as the roster.
Of course there is a knot in your stomach feeling too this week in places like Detroit, Washington, Pittsburgh and Oakland, where great seasons ended badly by 1-game playoffs (Pirates), bad managerial decisions (Nationals), injuries (Tigers), or bad trades (Athletics).
The biggest (payroll) and best (raw talent) does not always add up to success.
Hard to believe we might have a Red-and-Blue World Series, not the Dodgers-Angels, but rather Royal blue as in Kansas City, and the Redbirds, as in St. Louis Cardinals.